Tuesday, August 1, 2017

What did Donald Trump do today?

He told his defense lawyer one story and his press secretary another.

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that Trump had personally dictated Donald Trump Jr.'s misleading statement about his meeting with Russian agents during the campaign. Today, while admitting that Trump had been involved, spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that Trump Sr. was only doing "as any father would" in the circumstances.

Yesterday, in reaction to the same story, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow called the story "misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent.” He had also flatly denied that Trump Sr. was involved in any way in the creation of the statement in a previous interview. 

While it's not a crime for Trump (or his lawyers) to lie to the press, being involved in the creation of a misleading statement is legally dangerous for him. Not only does the attempt at deception draw the attention of investigators, but it can be used as evidence that he knew that there was criminal activity that needed to be concealed.

Why is this a problem?

  • It's wrong for a president to lie (or allow his defense lawyers to lie on his behalf) even if doing so isn't strictly speaking a crime.
  • Most fathers would neither need nor want to lie and potentially obstruct justice on behalf of their adult sons.